30 April 2012

Vankayya Kothmeera Karam - Andhra Speciality

This is a very popular recipe in Andhra Pradesh - the state I grew up in. I firmly believe that the best eggplant/brinjal/aubergine recipes in India come from Andhra Pradesh. This dish is called Vankayya Kothmeera Karam - literally translates to Brinjal Cilantro Spice. :) How can you go wrong?

Ingredients -
  • Indian Eggplants/Brinjal/Aubergine (the small purple ones) - about 10 -  cubed. Tip - as you are cubing the eggplants, immerse the cubed pieces in a bowl of salted water. This prevents them from browning & turning bitter. Just drain and add to the wok when ready to cook.
  • Turmeric/Haldi pdr - 1/2 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Jeera/Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Dry Red chillies - 2  - broken
  • Oil - 1 tbsp
  • Salt - to taste
  • Fresh lime/lemon Juice - 1 tsp
Rough grind/chop finely-
  • Cilantro - 1/2 cup
  • Ginger - 1 inch
  • Green Chillies - 3-5
Heat oil in a wok, add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add jeera, curry leaves and dry red chillies.
When the jeera browns, add the cubed eggplants, haldi and salt. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes.
Once the eggplants are about 3/4th the way cooked, add the rough ground mixture of cilantro, ginger and green chillies. Stir thoroughly.
Cook uncovered for another 5 minutes until the eggplants are fully cooked through. Don't over cook the eggplant at any stage - you don't want this to be too soft/mushy.

Once cooked, take off the stove and add some fresh lime/lemon juice.
Serve hot with roti/rice. Enjoy! :) You can also use the same spice mixture with other veggies.

28 April 2012

Gujarati Kadhi

Thanks Gaya for this awesome and oh-so-simple recipe!
Ingredients: 1 cup yogurt 1 tbsp besan 3 cups water salt (to taste) 1/2 tsp turmeric 1 inch stick of ginger - grated 1 serrano pepper - very finely chopped Mix all of the above ingredients thoroughly to avoid lumps. Set aside in the dish you want to cook it in. For tadka: Oil Hing - a pinch Cumin - 1/2 tsp Akkha Dhaniya seeds - 1/4 tsp Cloves - 3 Cinnamon stick - 1/2 inch Curry leaves - 8 Heat oil in a small pan. Add the tadka ingredients and wait for the whole spices to splutter. Pour the tadka into the yogurt water mixture and bring to a boil while stirring continuously. Make sure to keep stirring while heating so that the yogurt does not curdle. To test readiness, look for an oily sheen to appear. This took about 10 minutes to appear. Now add 1/2 tsp sugar or 1 tsp jaggery. Garnish with 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves. Serve with hot white rice or eat plain!

Best Banana Bread Ever

There have been several banana bread posts on our blog, but after much experimentation, I think I have found the perfect one! Recipe is from this website Makes 1 loaf Ingredients: 2 cups all-purpose flour 3 teaspoons baking powder ½ teaspoon salt ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened 1 cup granulated sugar 2 large eggs 1 ½ cups mashed ripe bananas 1 teaspoon lemon juice 3 tablespoons bourbon (I skipped this) 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (I added about 1/2 cup) Steps: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare your loaf pan by greasing and flouring it. I used a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Set aside. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition. Stop the mixer, scrape down sides of the bowl, and add bananas and lemon juice. Beat until well incorporated. Now, turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture all at once. Using a spatula, I slowly mixed these together since it was getting thick. Add the walnuts and chocolate chips and incorporate everything together. Batter will be thick. Spoon the mixture into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. This took longer for me than the prescribed time on the recipe. I had to have some patience with it. Remove from the oven and allow loaf to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

27 April 2012

Rava Dosa & Coconut Chutney - a quick picker-upper!

On days I am feeling bah for no reason at all, I turn to food that makes me feels good. Here's one that never fails to please - Rava Dosa & Coconut chutney!

Rava Dosa Ingredients -
·         Rice flour-1 cup
·         Semolina/Rava/ Sooji- 1 cup
·         All-purpose flour or Maida- ¼ cup
·         Salt to taste
·         Onion- ½ cup chopped finely
·         Green chillies -  3 or 4 finely chopped
·         Mustard seeds- ½ tsp
·         Cumin/Jeera seeds – ½ tsp
·         Curry leaves- a few
·         Oil – a couple of tbsp. Use Idhayam brand sesame oil for authentic South Indian flavor.
In a bowl, mix rice flour, maida and rava and add water and salt to it. The batter should be-
·         Free of lumps
·         Watery & thin – you need to be able to pour it.

Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan and add Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds, and curry leaves. Add this seasoning, and chopped green chillies & onions to the batter. Mix well.

Heat a non stick or iron griddle/tava – this should be very hot. Take a ladleful of batter, and pour on the griddle starting from the outer edge and finishing off in the middle. It’s okay to have gaps.
Drizzle ½ tsp of oil on the edges. When the dosa browns turn it over, and cook for a few minutes.
Serve hot with sambar/coconut chuntney.
If the batter becomes thick after making few dosas add water to it -  a little at a time. Don’t forget to check for salt.  

Coconut chutney –
Ingredients –
·         Frozen grated coconut – thawed – 1 cup
·         Shallot – 1 chopped 
·         Ginger – 1 inch piece - chopped
·         Cilantro – ¼ cup -  chopped
·         Green chillies – 5 -  chopped
·         Salt to taste
·         Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
·         Black gram (urad dal) – ½ tsp
·         Asafoetida powder/Hing – 1 pinch
·         Curry leaves – a few
·         Dry red chillies – 2 halved
·         Oil – 1 tbsp

Grind the coconut, chopped shallot, green chillies, coriander leaves, ginger, and salt to a fine paste using very little water.

Pour the chutney into the serving bowl and adjust the consistency with water, if needed.
Season with ingredients under the “seasoning” section – Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add the urad dal, red chillies, curry leaves and asafoetida powder. Stir till the urad dal turns red and pour it over the chutney.

26 April 2012

Kalan - Kerala Yoghurt Gravy

Kalan is one of my most favorite traditional Kerala dishes. I don't have a picture of this dish, but I am sure you can Bing it.  :) I do have a picture of a yam that was harvested recently from our backyard in Kerala. This one weighed over 13 kilos! :)

Here's how Kalan is made -

Ingredients -

·         Green Plantains or Yam (Suran) – cut into cubes  - 1 cup
You can get green plantains in Asian grocery stores that you can peel & chop, and cut frozen yam (sold as Suran) is sold in the frozen section of your Indian grocery store. Some folks are allergic to yam, so use with caution.
·         Black Pepper – ground -  2 tsp (use fresh)
·         Red Chilli powder -1 tsp
·         Haldi/Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
·         Sour Yogurt/Curd – 2 cups
       Homemade yoghurt left outside to become sour works BEST in this recipe. Of course we don’t have access to this yumminess in the US – so I use a combination of store bought fat-free European style yoghurt & fat-free sour cream in 2:1 ratio
·         Salt to taste
·         Grated Coconut – ½ cup (you can use frozen) 
·         Jeera/Cumin seeds -1 tsp
·         Green chillies -4 or 5
·         Coconut oil -1 tbsp
·         Mustard seeds -1 tsp
·         Fenugreek/Methi seeds -1/2 tsp
·         Dry red chilly -1 (break it in 2)
·         Curry leaves – a few
Add green plantains/yam cubes with chilli powder, turmeric, salt, ground black pepper with 2 cups of water to a pot, and cook covered until the cubes are cooked and soaked up all the moisture. Don’t cook it too mushy.
Lower the heat and add whipped yoghurt and 1 cup of water.
Simmer and cook for at least 40 min to an hour, stirring occasionally. You will end up with a thick mixture– this can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for over a month if needed.
Whenever you want to eat Kalan, grind the ingredients under the “Grind” section with as little water as possible (don’t use water to grind if you don’t need to).
Add this ground paste + 1 cup of water to the thick yoghurt-vegetable mixture, cook for a few minutes, add salt if needed and season with the ingredients under “Seasoning” section. 
For seasoning, heat coconut oil. Add mustard seeds, and when they splutter, add fenugreek/methi seeds, dry red chilli, and curry leaves and pour it over the Kalan. Serve with rice.
Note - Coconut oil gives you the authentic Kerala taste, but feel free to substitute if you don’t like the flavor.

21 April 2012

Veggie Manchurian!

Wikipedia says that Indian Chinese or more commonly known as Indo-Chinese cuisine is the adaptation of Chinese seasoning and cooking techniques to Indian tastes. I say that this is the tastiest food EVER!
Veggie Manchurian is an Indo-Chinese staple - 3 step recipe below!

Step 1  - Make veggie balls
·         2 cups shredded cabbage + carrots (I used a finely chopped cole slaw mix J)
·         ½ cup finely chopped onions
·         2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic & green chillies
·         1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
·         Maida + Cornflour – a couple of teaspoons (always in the 1:3 ratio)
·         Salt to taste
·         Oil to deep fry
Mix all the above ingredients– add water (a couple of teaspoons at a time) and mix until you can form balls. Water is only added to aid in the forming of the balls – this shouldn’t be soggy. At the same time the balls shouldn’t be too dry as they might disintegrate while frying.  
Once the balls are done, deep fry them in any healthy oil (ahem…), drain and arrange them in the dish you want to serve it in. This will make about 15-20 balls.
To make cauliflower or mushroom manchurian, replace the shredded cabbage+carrots with slightly blanched cauliflower or mushrooms that have been wiped clean-  the additional ingredients are the same.

Step 2 – Make the sauce
·         2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
·         2 tablespoons or more finely chopped green chillies
·         1 cup of cold water
·         2 teaspoons of cornflour
·         2 teaspoons of low sodium soy sauce
·         Maggi Chilli sauce OR Maggi hot & sweet tomato ketchup
·         Handful of finely chopped cilantro + green onions for garnish
In a hot wok, add a tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add garlic and green chillies. In a separate cup, mix the cornflour, cold water and soy sauce. Make sure the water is cold, otherwise the cornflour will not mix. Add this to the wok – keep stirring and let it thicken.
When it seems cooked through, add ketchup and as much water to make the amount of sauce you need. I didn’t add much water as I wanted to serve this as an appetizer without much gravy. If you want to make an entrĂ©e, add more gravy.
I did not add any additional salt to the sauce as the soy sauce & Maggi ketchup both have sodium.

Step 3 = Steps 1+2 (this is easy! J)
Once you have the consistency you need, add the sauce to the balls in the serving dish. Garnish with cilantro and green onions, serve and watch them disappear.

The sauce and balls can be made and refrigerated up to a day in advance.